The Italian Meal

The Italian table presents us with a veritable feast. The regional variation, the high quality of produce, and a sense of tradition are its mainstays. To really discover and explore this tradition, time and curiosity are required. In this article we provide a brief introduction to the formal Italian meal.

Formal Italian meal usually are made of 4 parts. Some may be skipped in less formal settings like lunch at home. Very formal occasions like weddings call for multiple dishes for each of the 4 main courses.

Usually cold regional delicacies. These are eaten to stimulate the appetite and prepare the plate for the courses to come. Appetizers are usually small potions of seasonal and regional delicacies such as cold meats, preserved or cooked vegetables, juicy olives.
For a seafood meal, this course often consists of seafood salad, raw shellfish, smoked salmon or caviar.

First course
The first course always consists of pasta, rice, gnocchi or soup. The intention is the satisfy hunger and set the eater at ease to enjoy the main course.

Second course
The second course is usually fish or meat. Occasionally it could be eggs or selected vegetable dishes. Second courses are in general accompanied by a vegetable side dish.

Local sweets or national favorites are common for dessert. The sweets may be replaced of followed by seasonal fresh fruits.
The meal is often concluded with one of the various digestive drinks (grappa, amaro, limoncello, anis) and an espresso.